Youth: the vanguard for peace and stability in Africa

One common feature of the youth, irrespective of which continent they belong, is the level of energy and optimism that results in the courage and strength to take action.

One common feature of the youth, irrespective of which continent they belong, is the level of energy and optimism that results in the courage and strength to take action.

The youth in Africa are not exceptional and are full of energy and ambition.

If managed right, the embodied energy and dynamism could be turned in to a force that will transform the society.  This has been proven time and again in the history of our continent.

It is hard in Africa to find any historical or contemporary point where the youth footprint has not been significant.

Be it the fight against colonialists for independence; the fight against poverty and illiteracy, the sport of athletics or other cultural contests: African youth have played a significant part in our history.

Moreover, in today’s Africa the youth under age 25 constitute 60 per cent of the population and are expected to number near 1 billion by 2050. As a result, the youth have an enormous role to play in transforming the region and beyond.

Nevertheless, despite this reality many of the youth have become the victims of circumstances created by others. In many African countries, unemployment rates hover around 20 per cent for youth (or in some cases surpass this).  

Approximately 3 in 10 children under 5 are stunted from undernourishment.   This is not only holding back their potential in building the society but has also resulted in the worst form of despair and is dashing their hope for the future.  

The youth under such circumstances occasionally opted to cope with the situation by escaping from the trouble and fleeing to other places. Unfortunately, the accessible escape routes are often very dangerous.   

Those who stay behind and fight the situation are trapped by many other counterproductive and sometimes violent lifestyles, as all other options are grabbed by the more privileged.

On the other hand, the good news is that the world has realised the situation and is convinced that there will be no future without the youth taking a driving seat in development issues.

In other words, this is the time the youth should move in determination to take over the helm and build the future they would like to have.  African governments have set a great 50-year vision through Agenda 2063 that has provided due attention to the youth; and aiming at a successful demographic transition.

Global leaders are determined to address national and global level challenges that the world has been facing by setting clear goals and targets that not only aim at ensuring growth and additional wealth, but prosperity and well-being for all in a sustainable manner.

This is a rare historical opportunity; the world should not take it for granted. It takes hard work, determination, and a new mindset that will perceive and do things differently.

In order to seize this opportunity and become successful in building the future, the youth must have a clear vision and understanding about the multifaceted and interwoven nature of the challenges and remedies.

Most important is to act responsibly and consider the global consequences of local choices, in order to secure a safe and a better planet for all.  The youth should be at the vanguard for the global peace and stability by defending regional integration, globalism, and multilateralism that otherwise are under enormous threat.

The SDG Centre for Africa would like to congratulate the African youth for their determination to take on the challenge.

It was an honour to witness the recent Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Kigali which demonstrated to many the level of commitment and readiness to meet the future by our youth.  

A week prior to that, Kigali also hosted a remarkable conference that discussed the grave condition of university education in Africa.  Universities affect the whole education system and without quality universities there cannot be a quality education system.

Without quality education, African youth will not be able to lead the change in a meaningful way so we must prioritise improvement efforts for our education systems.

Successes in these fronts are critical to achieving success in securing growth, development and prosperity. More importantly, success in all of these is success in peace, security, and stability.

In conclusion, SDGC/A firmly believes the youth have the power to make or break the SDG agenda including building peace, justice and strong serving institutions.  How they are engaged and empowered will determine how Africa looks in 2030.
The writer is the Director General of The Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A)
Copyright: Project Syndicate

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